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Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease Treatment in Shoreline

 A widespread condition, three out of every four people have a form of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Given the broad population that is affected, our belief at our Shoreline dental practice is that thorough evaluation of each patient’s dental health allows us to provide comprehensive treatment. This is why Dr. Steven M. Stanley determines treatment plans on the type and severity of disease to provide patients with an appropriate level of care. 

Why Get Treatment for Periodontal Disease?

Plaque, a bacterial film that forms on the teeth, is the cause of gum disease. Without treatment, this film hardens into tartar on the surface while also travelling below the gum line, leading to inflammation of the gums and creating deeper spaces between the teeth and gums where further infection can develop. At this point, the spread of bacteria has substantially impacted the underlying connections that hold teeth in place. This may leave patients with loose teeth and diminished facial structure as advanced disease causes loss of supporting bone and recession of gum tissue.

When gum disease is detected early, Dr. Stanley can recommend a wider variety of less invasive treatment options.

Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease To Watch For

Being able to identify common risk factors related to gum disease helps individuals understand the importance of seeking an evaluation by their dental health professional.

Do your teeth and gums bleed during brushing and flossing?

Bleeding is one of the most common general symptoms of periodontal disease. Unexplained bleeding while brushing and flossing teeth is a sure sign something is amiss and needs prompt attention by a health professional.

Do you have loose or wobbly teeth?

Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria that infect soft tissue and damage supporting structures around teeth over time. As bone and soft tissue are compromised due to infection, the teeth become less firmly attached and may wobble, shift or fall out completely.

Are your teeth suddenly looking longer?

Gum recession is a highly visible warning sign of periodontal disease. If teeth appear longer than before, gums may be receding as bacteria and debris deepen periodontal pockets around teeth. While some gum recession is expected as we age, soft tissue problems resulting from periodontal disease cause significant and quick recession.

Do you suffer from other health conditions?

Heart disease, high stress, diabetes, osteoporosis and osteopenia are all linked to periodontal disease. Medications taken for these illnesses can also render the gums more sensitive to bacteria commonly found in the mouth.

Does anyone in your family have periodontal disease?

Despite a rigorous oral hygiene routine, 30% of the population may be genetically predisposed to developing gum disease. Periodontal disease can also be spread through bacteria found in saliva. When saliva is passed through common contact, couples and children are at additional risk for gum disease.

Have you had previous gum problems?

A personal history of gum problems, such as general soft tissue irritation and inflammation, increases the risk of advanced periodontal disease six fold.

Daily brushing and flossing reduces amounts of harmful oral bacteria and keeps calculus formation to a minimum. However, periodontal disease can progress without any noticeable symptoms, so it is essential to get a dental check-up and professional cleaning twice a year. This professional cleaning removes tartar and assists in maintaining better gum health over time.

If you have completed the self-test and found yourself to be at risk or have more questions regarding periodontal disease, please ask your oral health professional about treatment for soft tissue infection and how to prevent additional gum problems.

Diagnosing Gum Disease

During a periodontal examination your dentist will be able to diagnose the presence of gum disease. This exam should always be part of your regular dental check-up.

A small dental instrument is gently used to measure the pocket or space between the tooth and the gums.  The depth of a healthy pocket measures three millimeters or less and does not bleed.  The instrument helps indicate if pockets are deeper than three millimeters.  As periodontal disease progresses, the pockets usually get deeper.

Your dentist or hygienist will use pocket depths, amount of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc., to make a diagnosis that will fall into a category below:

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the mildest and most common form of periodontitis. It is caused by the toxins in plaque and leads to periodontal disease. People at increased risk of developing gingivitis include pregnant women, women taking birth control pills, people with uncontrolled diabetes, steroid users and people who control seizures and blood pressure using medication.

Periodontitis

There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue.  Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth are generally indicative that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease.

  • Chronic periodontitis – Inflammation within supporting tissues cause deep pockets and gum recession.  It may appear the teeth are lengthening, but in actuality, the gums (gingiva) are receding.  This is the most common form of periodontal disease and is characterized by progressive loss of attachment, interspersed with periods of rapid progression.
  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual.  It is characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction and familial aggregation.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition.  Necrosis (tissue death) occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.
  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age.  Medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease are common cofactors.    

If Left Untreated

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone.  If left untreated, it can cause shifting teeth, loose teeth, and eventually tooth loss. 

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Treating Gum Disease

Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend the appropriate treatment.

Periodontal disease progresses as the sulcus (pocket or space) between the tooth and gums gets filled with bacteria, plaque, and tartar, causing irritation to the surrounding tissues.  When these irritants remain in the pocket space, they can cause damage to the gums and eventually, the bone that supports the teeth!

If the disease is caught in the early stages of gingivitis, and no damage has been done, one to two regular cleanings will be recommended.  You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.

If the disease has progressed to more advanced stages, a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) will be recommended.  It is usually done one quadrant of the mouth at a time while the area is numb.  In this procedure, tartar, plaque, and toxins are removed from above and below the gum line (scaling) and rough spots on root surfaces are made smooth (planing).  This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink.  Medications, special medicated mouth rinses, and an electric tooth brush may be recommended to help control infection and healing.

If the pockets do not heal after scaling and root planing, periodontal surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean.  Your dentist may also recommend that you see a periodontist (specialist of the gums and supporting bone).

Non-Surgical Treatment for Periodontal Disease

During the earliest stage of gum disease, professional cleanings coupled with more intensive at-home dental care are effective means of clearing gingivitis. Patients to our Shoreline dental practice will receive advice on improving their daily home care routine to protect their smiles from the return of disease.

If disease has progressed to periodontitis, deep cleaning is often recommended. More comprehensive than standard cleanings, deep cleaning consists of dental scaling and root planing. Dental scaling involves removing plaque, tartar, and other irritants both from the surface of the teeth as well as below the gum line. To reduce the pocket depth and encourage proper healing, the tooth roots will be smoothed through the process of root planing. Typically, these areas are numbed while the procedure takes place to ensure patient comfort.

To further control infection and promote recovery, Dr. Stanley may also recommend medications that treat gum inflammation as well as medicated oral rinses.

Surgical Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Significantly advanced periodontal disease may require surgical intervention to treat. Surgery may also be necessary when disease does not respond to deep cleaning or other non-surgical options. Under these circumstances, Dr. Stanley may recommend consulting a periodontist. This gum and jaw bone specialist can perform periodontal surgeries that both eliminate disease and promote the rehabilitation of damaged connective tissue.

Schedule A Consultation To Learn More About Treating Gum Disease

A consultation visit at our dental office can be the first step to regaining a strong, healthy smile. If you are ready to learn more about treatment options for periodontal disease, contact Dr. Steven M. Stanley today.

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